By Tahir Bhat
JAMMU: Lawmakers cutting across party levels criticised Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh’s handling of power, a key sector consisted to be state’s mother of all ills. Though the criticism did not lead to any major problem in the passage of grants, it did, however, offered a clear idea about the governance deficit.
MLA Nagrota Devender Singh Rana accused BJPDP government of wasting funds allocated for Smart City projects in the twin capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar and hinted a massive racket in formulation of Draft Project Reports in this regard.
“Who are preparing the DPRs under Smart City programme and what are their qualifications or standing”, Rana asked while participating in the discussions on the grants of Power and Housing & Urban Development Department in the Legislative Assembly this evening.
He said the Housing and Urban Development Department has become a hub of consultancies and there is something gravely wrong in preparation of DPRs. He also wanted to know as to which taxes are being levied to the residents of the twin capital cities under the pretext of the Smart City project, which has not taken on a right note.
Rana said the Housing & Urban Development Department has nothing to showcase except what it claims the Parking Slot and Hari Singh Park in Jammu. While the opening of the park to the public is belated, as it took the present dispensation three years to complete the project taken up several years ago, much has not been done in the urban development sector, especially in Jammu. He hoped that focused attention will be taken towards urban development by the present dispensation keeping in view lack of civic amenities to the people.
MLA Nagrota also expressed concern over the delay in preparation and finalization of Master Plans, saying these have fallen prey to consultancies. These plans are needed to be accorded priority attention, he added.
Referring to the power sector, Rana wondered that the much-trumpeted Deendhayal Upadhyay Scheme is a non-starter in Jammu and Kashmir. There has been nothing on the ground except the talks about tendering and re-tendering. “This is an undesirable situation, which requires being addressed on priority so that benefits of the scheme percolate down to the targeted segment of the population, he said.
Rana said that power generation has received a major hit during the past three years. He, however, hoped that Chenab Basin will be optimally utilised for constructing a reservoir that will eventually help in generation of power. He said the Bursar Storage Reservoir could prove to be a potential asset for the State that should be considered.
Rana wanted to know whether the present dispensation had a proposal to transfer Rs 4,000 crore worth power projects under Prime Minister’s Development Package to CPSU. He said the Power Development Department is mired in the controversies of litigations rather than taking forward any projects to logical conclusion.
Rana sought corrective measures to plug the wrongs in the power sector, which he termed to be in shambles. He also referred to a letter purportedly written to the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister by the State Finance Minister that portrays the Power Development Department in a bad light. If true, he said this speaks volumes about lack of synergy between two limbs of the government. He said governments in democratic polity have a collective responsibility and if there is any trust deficit between two ministries that is going to impact the overall interests of the state.
Rana also called for reforms in the Udhay Bond scheme and measures for ensuring the safety of the PDD staff working in difficult situations. He also raised the issue of daily wagers in the PDD and Housing & Urban Development departments.
While participating in the discussion on grants of PDD and urban development in Legislative Assembly today, CPI (M) leader and MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami alleged that around 266 crore projects under PMDP were awarded unofficially on very high rates on 31-05-2017 without any finance department, SDRC (State Distribution Reforms Committee) and Cabinet Approval.
Referring to Urban and Housing Development, he regretted that out of 78 cities and towns in the state only less than 10 Master Plans have been notified till date because of lack of professional planners in the department and the government seems to be insensitive to engage professionals to expedite the formulation of master plans. Kulgam master Plan is being prepared for last 10 years but has not been finalised as yet. He demanded that recruitment rules need to be revised, department reorganised and strengthened to ensure early preparation of the master Plans across the state.
The sewerage and drainage system in Kulgam is in a dilapidated condition and no concrete measures are being devised to upgrade it. Kulgam and other small towns are totally neglected in respect of the implementation of various centrally sponsored schemes including AMRUT. Environmental concerns are being ignored. Solid Waste Management Programme has not been up to the mark and dumping of waste material in the towns and cities has created havoc and health hazardous conditions. Construction of community/public toilets under SBM in Kulgam is in a slow pace. Houseless in cities and towns especially in slums are not being provided shelter.
MLA Khanyar Ali Mohammad Sagar said that the power development has totally failed to provide electricity to people of the state.
“Kashmir is facing the worst-ever power crisis. There is no electricity anywhere in the Valley,” he said, questioning the facts and figures provided by the deputy chief minister about the power supply and availability of transformers in Kashmir.
Sagar demanded that the Minister concerned should clarify the same on the floor of the House. He regretted that Grid Station at Alastang despite having been taken up for execution in 2008 under PMRP-2004 but till date, the same has not been completed for various reasons as a result of which the power scenario could not be upgraded in the valley adversely affecting the energy availability during harsh winter.Three years of the coalition government has lapsed but power scenario has been playing hide and seek particularly in peak seasons.
Countering the figures provided by deputy CM, NC’s Altaf Wani sarcastically remarked that electricity is available only for 5-6 hours in a month in Kashmir.
Congress MLA Viqar Rasool also alleged that Kashmir and Chenab valley are facing acute power crisis. “ he asked the minister that what is the government doing to get back power projects from NHPC ?”
Congress MLA GM Saroori also launched a scathing attack on the minister for failing to complete centrally-sponsored schemes. He said the people of far-flung areas are totally ignored by the government and the minister divided the regions.
Even MLAs from treasury benches also complained about PDD slackness in completing the projects aimed at upgrading the transmission and distribution system in Kashmir. “Not a single project under R-APDRP has been completed in Srinagar,” PDP MLA Shopian Mohammad Yousuf Bhat alleged.
PDP MLA from Rafiabad Yawar Dilawar Mir on Thursday said that power department has completely failed to provide electricity to the people of the Kashmir.
Mir Said that the department of power has totally failed to implement centrally schemes for the power they are only visible on papers.
“People in my constituency are facing immense problems because of water scarcity. They have been continuously complaining about it, but the government is not addressing the issue,” Mir said. He asked if schemes like RAPDRP, IPDS, and DDUGJY were being implemented in the state, as “there was no improvement in power sector since these projects were announced”.
“Your stories we don’t need,” Mir said. “We can’t expect to see change on the ground”. He said that not a single pole reached in his constituency even after Chief Minister’s Commitment and adding that Where should we go ?
Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Kumar Singh today informed the Legislative Assembly that several flagship schemes have been launched for augmentation and strengthening of generation, transmission and distribution network to achieve self-sufficiency and provide 24×7 supply to the consumers.
Winding up the discussion on the Demands for Grants of the Power sector in the Legislative Assembly, Deputy Chief Minister welcomed the suggestions put forth by the Legislators regarding the functioning of the Departments under his charge.
Dr Singh said he and his team of officers would take a cue from the valuable suggestions of the Legislators and redouble their efforts to improve the functioning of the power and housing & urban development sectors.
Referring to the power sector, the Deputy Chief Minister said that several hydroelectric projects have been undertaken in the state under close monitoring mechanism for ensuring that these are completed within the stipulated timeline. “Two projects of 9MW capacity each in Dah and Hanu in district Leh have been completed and the commissioning of these projects shall be done during the current year while the tendering process of 12 MW Karnah HEP has also been initiated”, he said adding that 3 new projects in joint venture with NHPC and Power Trading Corporation are at an advanced stage of tendering.
Giving further details, he said that 300 MW Kishenganga HEP, executed by NHPC is likely to be commissioned this year and it will go a long way in augmenting the power generation capacity.
The Deputy CM also referred to the restructuring of JKSPDC, one of the major executing agencies associated with the tapping of the hydro-electric potential of the state. He said as part of the financial engineering of the corporation, the PDD will pay Rs 2400 crore to it and at the time, SPDC will return Rs 4300 crore which it has taken as loan from the State Government over a period of time.
He further informed that once these two transactions are done, Rs 1900 crore, the gap between the two transactions shall be infused as equity into the company. Further, fresh valuation of assets is expected to add additional Rs 1000 crore to the equity base of SPDC he added.
“In one go, SPDC will become a debt-free company with an equity base of around Rs 3000 crore and post these changes, the company shall go for Initial Public Offering (IPO)”, he said.
“The Government is also finalising the modalities of opening a Letter of Credit with J&K Bank, for timely payment of the power purchase bills. This will ensure power security and annual savings of about Rs 150 crore on account of interest,” he added.
Dr Singh said that GoI has sanctioned Rs 1189.59 crore under PMDP for strengthening transmission system at 220kV and 132kV level. “Tenders for all schemes in both Jammu and Kashmir provinces stand issued. Out of 32 projects 8 stands allotted,” he added.
He said to remove existing constraints at transmission level, the department is striving to complete the critical Grid Stations and Transmission lines by well before December, 2018 which include Grid Station, Alusteng, Budgam, Delina, Gladni, 220 KV, Srinagar –Leh, transmission line and 400 KV D/C transmission line NRSS-XXIX from Jalandhar-Samba to Amargarh.
About augmentation of the distribution network, Dr Singh informed that GoI has approved an amount of Rs 616.59 crore under DDUGJY for strengthening the distribution system in rural areas of 21 districts of the state.
“The Project Management Agencies and Project Implementation Agencies for all districts stand appointed. 13 districts have been assigned to JKPDD and remaining 8 to PGCIL he said adding that the tenders for other 8 districts shall be awarded within a week’s time which include 3 districts of Jammu (Ramban, Reasi, and Udhampur), 3 of Kashmir (Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian) and 2 of Ladakh (Leh and Kargil).
The Deputy Chief Minister said that electrification of 102 un-electrified villages of the state is included in the DDUGJY and RGGVY-II schemes, of which 78 un-electrified villages are included in DDUGJY and remaining 24 are included in RGGVY-II.
He added that electrification of 22 villages has been achieved till January 2018 and 26 villages shall be electrified by April 2018. Remaining 54 villages shall be electrified through off-grid mode by June 2018, he added.
For expediting registration of connections of the un-electrified households, Mobile App namely “Gram Jyoti Doot” has been developed and 250 connections have been registered through this App, he informed.
He further informed that for the strengthening of sub-transmission and distribution networks in 86 towns of the state, GoI has sanctioned Rs 444.50 crore under Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS). The Dy CM added that the Project Management Agencies (PMA) and Project Implementing Agencies (PIAs) have been appointed and tendering is under process.
Under PMDP, GoI has sanctioned Rs 2570.14 crore for strengthening of the distribution system in rural and urban areas of the state and special focus is being laid on capital cities, industrial towns, Advance Technology interventions, the creation of Smart Grids and underground cabling of pilgrimage and tourist destinations, he said.
“The scheme also includes replacement of sub-standard conductors and worn out poles and the government has released an amount of Rs 87 crore @ Rs 1.00 crore for each constituency under PMDP” he informed.
Giving further details, he said 90 % progress has been achieved under Re-structured Accelerated Power Development & Reforms Programme (R-APDRP), launched in 30 identified towns of the state at an estimated cost of Rs 151.99 crore and the scheme is likely to be completed by March 2018.
He further informed that Part–B of RAPDRP (Infrastructure) scheme has been sanctioned at a cost of Rs 1665.27 crore envisaging conventional distribution strengthening works, installation of High Voltage Distribution System (HVDS) and Aerial Bunched cabling in densely populated areas to plug pilferage.
“As a step towards energy efficiency, Unnat Jeevan scheme to provide Affordable LEDs and Appliances (UJALA) is under implementation in the state with the assistance of CPSU, Energy Efficiency Services Ltd. (EESL)” he informed and added around 78 Lakh LED bulbs have been distributed at a nominal cost (Rs 100 for a pack of 5 lamps) so far.
Dr Singh said that the State Government has signed an MoU with GoI, Ministry of Power under UDAY, under which an amount of Rs 3537.55 crore has been provided to liquidate the outstanding dues of CPSUs, thus reducing the interest cost of about Rs 340.00 crore annually.
Informing the House about the present Power Scenario, he said that 3101 MW un-restricted peak load is being recorded against which 2280 MW is being met. “The peak met during 2014-15 was 2043 MW, which means an increase of 11.6 %. The present unrestricted energy demand is 18473, against which Energy input is 15667 MU,” he added.
“On the basis of the requests received by the Department from various quarters including public representatives, the department has proposed grant of Amnesty for 100% waiver of surcharge in respect of various categories of consumers viz Domestic, Agriculture (non- government) etc” he informed.
The Deputy CM said that reduction of Electricity Duty has been from 22% to 10% has benefited all categories of consumers across the board.
While referring to the initiatives taken to ensure the welfare of departmental employees in case of injury or death on duty, the Deputy Chief Minister said that ex-gratia relief has been increased to Rs 3 lakh in case of death, Rs 1 lakh for total disability and Rs 30 thousand for partial disability.